Friday, October 28, 2011

Some more trees.............

'Toward Don Juan' 8x10 in. oil on panel
Don Juan is a little village on the other side of San Miguel's Presa, whose water level at the moment is way down, giving way to a sea of 'pink weed' in it's place. We spent a nice calm Wednesday morning trying to get those colors just right.

'October Afternoon' 8x10 in. oil on panel
Did this near S.M. Viejo during Donna's plein air class on Monday afternoon. It was a little windy but all was pleasure after we weighted our easels down with lots of rocks. Mexican autumn is a nice time to paint around San Miguel.

'Through to the Valley' 9x12 in. oil on panel
and this one was done on the afternoon of the 'Don Juan" pic.
We'll be going back to this same place on Monday afternoon with Donna's plein air group. It's a great location - sort of a park-like atmosphere, very quiet and totally beautiful. I hope I've done it
some justice. I like Mesquite trees a lot. Somebody said the other day that they find them ugly ............... I think they must be thinking of 'Sweet Acacia's' which are similar but a lot more scraggly and smaller. Mature Mesquites have a lot of personality.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Trees are a challenge ..............

'Pepper Tree and Corn Fields' 8x10 in. oil on panel

'Morning Light - San Miguel Viejo' 9x12 in. oil on panel

Yep, - no doubt about it, trees are a handful to paint! They're interesting. They have character and are a great compositional device. I've always been strongly attracted to them and they have some great varieties down here in Mexico. However, it's one thing to draw a tree or two and it's quite another to paint them convincingly into their surroundings. You don't want to fuss and overwork but you want them to be true to their species and exude lots of tree essence. You want them to be 'airy' ... maybe even move a little in the breeze. The two examples above were done at San Miguel Viejo this week. Donna's plein air group were mostly turned the other direction and did some pretty impressive work on the old church. I figured it was about time I gave that subject a rest, having done it about 5 times now. So I tackled the trees, corn .............and... rock pile ........
The lightly experienced lady beside me (Gail) also took on this challenge and seemed to think I really knew what I was doing the whole time. Well, the truth is we're all learning. I think my results were encouraging but I plan to concentrate my efforts on these tricky lifeforms for a spell.
Also, I've dropped a purely dry brush approach as it seemed to kill spontaneity a bit but I'm leaning on it more as just another technique to exploit when it's appropriate.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Some New Work from Out n About

"El Campo - Octubre" 9x12in. oil on panel
We did a lot of plein air work last week out in the campo. This was the last one just outside of town near San Miguel Viejo. I used to like using 'dry brush' technique a lot when I was a kid but I largely drifted away from it as I got older. Well, about 2 weeks ago I decided to revisit it and all last week I was leaning on it more and more. I like the look of it ( a bit like pastel ) and it was really fun, even on location - once I got used to it again. I can't wait to get back out again but at the moment we're about to be hit by hurricane 'Jova'! We won't see the high winds - the mountains tear them up before they get this far inland - but we'll probably get a deluge of rain. It's looking pretty dark and grim at the moment.

'La Cupula Media Naranja' - Neutla
8x10in. oil on panel
........ this one from the little village of Neutla, about 45 minutes from San Miguel. They don't even have a single restaurant in town. It was very, very quiet in Neutla and the people were very, very friendly. They acted at first like we were from Mars but we ended up getting invited for dinner - great little place - we'll be going back for more!

'La Puente - Neutla' 9x12in. oil on panel
Another from the same place - this one actually done in the morning before our move to the central jardin, where I tackled the 'Cupula Naranja'. We had half the village walk by us over the bridge - all wide eyed at their first site of Donna and I with our easels set up. It's hard to believe they're not used to painters by the score setting up here. We didn't see another gringo all day and didn't miss 'em either.

'Desde Arriba' 8x10in. oil on panel
This one was a little closer to home and the first one done on our new 8x10in. plein air kits. The kits were fine but I'm so used to working on 9x12 and up, it's going to take a little getting used to. I designed the smaller ones to fit in the box on the back of the motorcycle so we could carry more panels of that size. But I like to do some detail before I consider a picture complete and I'm finding there seems to be a sort of critical limit to how small you can go and not have 'hand shake' become a significant factor. The new boxes are lighter than ever though and are going to be a great asset when size and weight are a big consideration.